This pub serves blue cheese chicken tikka & naan pizzas. Yum!
Listening to Highway to Hell and munching on a Keema samosa might sound like an odd pairing. But try it. For starters, everything tastes better when you’re unwinding to AC/DC. Also, lamb keema combined with coriander mayo is so delicious, it might have you entirely forget about the ketchup —well for a few hours at least.
We’re at The Velveteen Rabbit that was relaunched a few weeks ago, and stepped in as early as 4.30 pm on a Saturday, to get a feel of the space before the crowd starts taking over and we’re likely to fight for elbow room, while juggling one of their newly innovated Chicken Tikka Naanzas (if you haven’t guessed, it’s a pizza with a naan base).
“We want to showcase a play of spices that appeals to the Indian palate, but is subtle enough to engage the non-Indian palate as well,” says owner Ashish Thadani who is also the man behind Ciclo Cafe and L’Amandier (now closed and reopened as the revamped Velveteen Rabbit). The move from the basement to a more expansive first floor has meant a substantial increase in space with a seating capacity of 65 as compared to the 38 seats previously and plenty of standing room. Although, if you’ve been mourning the close of L’Amandier, don’t fret as some of the signatures off the bistro’s menu like the Blue Cheese Chicken Tikka have been retained.
So what’s in store for the new space? “The same as when we started a year ago,” responds Ashish, adding, “We want to make this a neighbouring watering hole that is the go-to place for good food, good alcohol and good music.” One sip of our Tokyo Mid town tells us we can now check off all three boxes.
The cocktail made of pressed musk melon shaken with vodka, midori and lime arrives in a cigar mug. Our waiter dials up the drama by pouring some water on the dry ice hidden cleverly beneath a bunch of cypress leaves for a whoosh of smoke — giving the whole affair a very theatrical feel.
With an impressive 53 cocktails on the menu, Ashish says, “We serve alcohol that isn’t available in any other standalone bar in town.” This includes the Angostura 1824 (blend of finest mature rums) and Fireball Cinnamon Whisky that we are told is the only place in South India where it’s served.
Moving on to the hardbound food menu, that reads like a story book — much the place’s namesake, we find that most of the sections are the same, except for the new roll out of appetisers that we suggest you fill up on instead of the main course. The Habanero Onion Rings are giant crumb fried spheres of deliciousness complemented by the sweetness of jalapeno salsa and the Lassoni Paneer Tikka that we initially wanted to skip (how interesting could another paneer tikka be?) had us eating our words. We especially enjoyed eating the paneer off the buttery mini beds of onion kulcha — a contemporary desi canapé of sorts.
“But our dishes are more Mediterranean than Indian, as that resonates with our tastes,” Ashish lets on candidly. So we aren’t surprised when the star of the evening turns out to be the delicate Turkish Beyti Kebabs. Imagine baked tenderloin sheekh kebab wrapped in filo pastry. Top with a dollop of yoghurt hummus, pop one into your mouth, and you’re bound to utter the same word we did. More!
Prices: Meal for two is Rs 1,200. Details: 95660-68103